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True Cloud Architecture: What “Cloud” Really Means

True Cloud Architecture: What “Cloud” Really Means

Be honest. You keep a load of gold under your bed as your primary source of financial stability right?

No?

If you’d shown someone a debit card 100 years ago, they would have laughed. “That can’t be real,” they might have said. After all, they might reason, if you can’t hold your money, you can’t be sure it’s there. The only way to be safe is to store that gold under the bed.

If you’ve thought about cloud architecture in the past and had a similar reaction, you aren’t alone. Embracing intangible solutions to everyday issues is tough. Everyone’s talking about the cloud, and you’re over here worrying about the safety of your critical information. Where does it all go? Who is watching? If your information moves offsite, is it really safe? Valid concerns.

So we’re going to debunk three common myths about in-house hosting versus cloud-based platforms so you can take full advantage of everything true cloud architecture has to offer (hint: it’s a lot). But first, let’s look at what we mean by true cloud architecture.

What Is True Cloud Architecture?

Data requires a lot of space—more than you have available on a single computer. Self-hosting in house (meaning you store your applications and information on your own server) starts to take advantage of the cloud by putting your information in an accessible, communal space online. Everyone in the organization sees that information in real time and has access to the same versions of the data across departments.

Self-hosting demands a lot, however. Your organization is responsible for security patches and updates, rewriting aspects of programming to accommodate scale, and individually updating all client-side portals.

True cloud architecture moves data to a shared cloud space. It shifts hosting to an outside server with logins for you and your clients through that shared space.

Let’s go back to that gold under the bed. Think of in-house hosting as exchanging your gold for paper dollars…and hiding those under the bed instead. The dollars are a gold proxy but you’re still responsible. Taking those dollars to the bank and using a debit card instead is the true cloud architecture equivalent. The bank is now responsible for your money’s security.

We get it, though. You’re still really nervous to see that gold leave your hands. Your information is your organization’s lifeline and giving up control can feel scary. So let’s address the first myth.

Myth #1: In-house is safer.

It is safer from large-scale disruptions, true. We’re talking massive breaches of security across national level infrastructure. We’re talking pulling the plug on everything we know. But here’s the thing: that’s not your real safety concern. Local attacks and partner security risks are.

Basing your information in-house makes you vulnerable to targeted attacks. Just like having gold under your bed makes you a target, in-house servers do, too. You don’t have the time or capability to run 24/7 security protocols the way a SaaS option would. Unless you’re already a high-scale IT environment, you’re better off with the pros because cloud options have ports of entry and those can be patched quickly.

SaaS options move security responsibility to the vendor. You log in and access your information quickly, and the vendor takes care of necessary upgrades without interrupting service. It’s like turning your gold over to the bank for safekeeping in their vaults.

Myth #2: In-house is more personalized.

Most hosted solutions are built and implemented with your current position in mind. Later on, as your needs change, scaling up or down requires new software, some downtime, and plenty of transition lead. An option that doesn’t scale will fail in the long run and take future customers with it.

SaaS options, on the other hand, are equipped to handle growth. In fact, SaaS options experience about 46% less downtime over seven years as opposed to self-hosted options. Upgrades roll out simultaneously, and you’re able to pay for the storage you actually use instead of shouldering idle infrastructure costs if demand takes a downturn.

The cloud also allows compartmentalization, something challenging to do with a hosted server. Resources are divided by function and treated individually. Scale one without scaling them all.

Myth #3: In-house is easier.

You imagine a system you know like the back of your hand, but the reality is that all responsibility for maintenance falls to you. If you need to call support, guess what? Technical support for a dedicated server is notoriously tricky because it requires a costly understanding of your particular situation. The support tech has to learn your vendor-specific software.

Cloud-based architecture doesn’t require you to be the expert. Cloud servers include this monitoring and support with the package. It reduces the cost to you and ensures someone always knows what’s going on with your software.

Multi-tenant platforms also lower cost by sharing resources among a pool of users. They’re more flexible and maximize peak load capacity. Disaster recovery is easier and overall business has better continuity.

Microsoft Azure is one example of a multi-tenant platform. It maximizes processing space by sharing resources with a pool of users. Since many users are already on Microsoft’s Active Directory (think Office 365), a SaaS vendor can tie those accounts directly to the cloud software without creating yet another list of accounts for your team to keep up with.

Bonus Myth: You have to choose.

Public clouds and dedicated hosting aren’t the only two options. You can get personalized software that includes automatic scaling, maintenance, and support.

True cloud architecture gives you flexibility and scale. Your perfect in-house solution might be a bear to update in the future when your situation changes (hopefully for the better).

An option like IntelAgree hits all the high points of switching to true cloud architecture. It uses Microsoft Azure to host a customized SaaS option for contract management. It’s intelligent and learns the more you use it. You have a dedicated support person who knows your particular solution inside and out. And with real-time data plus instant upgrades and security patches client-side and yours, your information is always secure.

There may be legitimate reasons to store your gold under your bed, but for most, why add the headache to your operations? Cloud architecture is scalable and secure, and a quality SaaS option for time-consuming processes (like contract management!) can take the responsibility off your plate and free you up to do what you do best: innovate and oversee your business.

What’s your biggest concern about operating in the cloud? Are you still holding on to self-hosting options? Let us know if you have questions. We’d love to chat.

Further Reading:

How Cloud Computing Works” – Jonathan Strickland for How Stuff Works

On Premise Is Dead, Long Live On Premise” – Jacek Materna for Forbes.com

 

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